now in the high desert

March 31, 2007

baptism

Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 9:05 am

I arrived home from the conference and listened to the missionaries with new ears. My brother was a year younger than I and he had felt the truth of their words already. My mother, too, had decided to join the church. We didn’t attend a sacrament meeting before baptism because my mother didn’t want to be influenced in her decision by people she might meet there and I abided her counsel. Looking back, it seems a strange thing to do since prospective members are always encouraged to attend before baptism but I truly believe we were guided in that choice.

The 31st of July 1965 was a perfect New England summer day. The missionaries drove us to the summer cottage of a local member on the shores of Sebec Lake. I was provided with a pretty, white corduroy dress. It came to my ankles and had little puffed cap sleeves and an empire waistline. My brother wore white pants and shirt. My mother would be baptised a few weeks later because she had a responsibility she wanted to finish in the Congregational church before she commited herself to a new church.

I remember feeling a bit panicky just before I was led into the lake. Was this the right thing to do? Was this really the true church? I looked at my half chewed nail polish and silently prayed,”Oh,God. If this IS the true church let this nail polish be gone when I come out of the water!” Well, of course it wasn’t. I had to be dunked twice because my foot came up the first time but finally it was finished and my brother was finished and then we went into the little cottage and were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I have forgotten much of that day after over forty years but I do recall the sense of joy and gratitude I felt. I had been washed clean! I had the gifrt of the Holy Ghost!

My brother and I didn’t go to Sacrament meeting until after Mom was baptized and then Mom, myself, my two brothers and baby sister all attended together for the first time in the middle of August. A member kindly picked us up and we arrived downtown in front of a white building with peeling paint, bordered by a hardware store on one side and a laudromat on the other. We entered the place and immediately climbed a flight of stairs to a quite seedy looking room that had a blanket cast over a big square thing on the back wall (later investigation would show it to be a giant bingo board which saw use on Saturday nights). In front of the blanketed thing were three chairs and in front of them a lectern. Folding chairs were arranged in several rows facing the lectern and there was a piano and a Sacrament table to the side. The grubby walls were in need of paint and later my sunday school class met in a downstairs back hall
with no windows that was colored a startling yellow which we eventually named “The Yellow Submarine”.

The meeting place was a shock after the classic beauty of the old Congo church but the noise those thirty-five or forty members made as they greeted and talked before the Sacrament service jarred our sense of reverence. That Sunday it happened that none of the speakers quoted from the Bible. The Savior was barely mentioned and references were taken from the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. I barely knew who Joseph Smith and Nephi were at that time to say nothing of the wonderful and rich characters and stories I would later come to love and cherish from the Book of Mormom.

We arrived home in silence. As we entered our front door and stopped in the hall, Mom and I looked at each other and she said my thoughts. “Have we made a horrible mistake?” Fortunately, my mother had the good sense to counsel us to give it some time. We believed the doctrine the missionaries had taught and we needed to attend regularly for a time before we made a choice not to go back.

And so that most exciting of journeys began; learning day by day the wonderous truths of the gospel. How grateful I am for that gift of the Holy Ghost for it testified to me of the truth of each new principle that I learned. I loved to hear the Sacrament prayers because the Holy Ghost would bide for a time with me when I listened to and pondered those precious words.
I started to read the Book of Mormon and so began a life long study of a sacred book that would become, with the Bible and Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price a joy to me when I was happy, a solace when times were sad, and a strength during periods of struggle.

I do indeed “stand all amazed” at this great gift that came into my life when I was fourteen.
Even now I often weep when I read conversion stories because I know of the excitement and joy that will attend the new member if she is willing to pay the price to have the Holy Spirit with her to teach and testify of the Savior.

I especially find my greatest happiness in watching the progression of those I love in the kingdom of God. Now to see my precious grandchildren raised in the knowledge of the Savior and see them baptized into the true church is a blessing I hold in deep gratitude to the Lord.
I pray daily that we will learn to serve with all our hearts, might, minds and strength, that we will become “…zealous for keeping the commandments of God”.

March 29, 2007

almost baptized

Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 10:27 am

I guess I should amend my last post to say that my premortal life choices were probably the real base for my baptism (according to Joseph Smith).

A major step towards that ordinance happened when I was almost twelve and we moved from the middle of nowhere to a small town nearby. The wonders of our new house included running hot water, an indoor bathroom, a tiny room of my own and walking distance to the town library which became my second home.

Mom hied my two brothers and me to the Congregational Church after we had gotten settled and that was where we attended church and sunday school and where I was “sprinkle” baptised when I was thirteen. The building was a beautiful old New England church with stained glass windows, pretty maple pews, and a lovely reverence as congregants entered the church, smiled and nodded to aquaintances, and quietly took their seats. There were no babies or little children since they were in an adjacent building in child care during the service.

Every week we sang the doxology which I dearly loved and often sing to myself even now.
It is hymn #242, “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” in our hymnbook. Singing those old Protestant hymns was, for me, a prayer to my God and I was pleased to find many of them in the hymnal of the Church in a few years. Later, when reading D & C 25:12 for the first time I had the sweet experience of feeling the testimony of the Holy Ghost revealing the truth of that scripture. I describe it as a testimony jolt; when pure knowledge flows into my soul.

My fourteenth and fifteenth years were as emotional and confusing as those of any young adolescent. My sunday school teacher had informed us that the Bible was a collection of myths and fables made up to illustrate ethical principles. I knew that was wrong
and my mother agreed with me. The minister couldn’t answer many of my questions and I began to look at other christian churches. I was drawn to some aspects of the Catholic church but repelled by others. The Methodist and Baptist church services seemed much like the Congregational worship. I should say here that I made no deep studies of these religions.
I went to a service and talked to other kids my age about their beliefs, only to find that they all believed the same basic stuff I did. The old hymns I sang on Sundays seemed to have the strongest doctrine and provide the sturdiest ground.

About this time I became interested in philosophy and had checked out “Plato’s Dialogues” among other such works from the library. I spent several months on these (oh, to have had internet access) and was enjoying sending my mind into new areas.

I had turned fourteen in February and in April my sister was born. A few weeks later, two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints entered our home to teach us the “discussions”. I had an uncle from the west that had been baptised at eight but was not active (and has never been) and my mother was curious about the “Mormons”. My brother and I were invited to join the lessons and we spent the next ten weeks learning about the Church. We were encouraged to attend church but never seemed to get around to it (which later would prove to be a great blessing). I demurred when asked to be baptized. I already believed most of the doctrine they had taught but the importance of “priesthood keys” and “authority” didn’t seem to register and anyway, wasn’t this church a bit weird? None of my friends belonged to it and there was that old polygamy thing.

It was now July and there was a family in the local branch who were taking a load of teenagers to the annual Youth Conference which was going to be held at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Except for a ride to Bar Harbor, I had never been more than forty miles from home and I yearned to see the world. I was invited to attend the Youth Conference and I quickly accepted provided I was not going to be obligated to be baptized.

We arrived at Amherst on Thursday and I enjoyed the classes and the campus but had no intention of joining the Church. Friday afternoon there was to be a talk by Truman Madsen, the outgoing president of the New England Mission. I settled into my seat, thinking about the big dance later that evening. I don’t know when I began to really listen to him. Perhaps it was his quoting from the “Dialogues of Plato” that first caught my attention. But as I listened to President Madsen, the Holy Ghost testified very strongly to me of the truth of his words and the reality of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church and that this was the true church.
I was overwhelmed by this revelation. The next morning there was a fast and testimony meeting where President Madsen bore his testimony and again I felt the warm and sure witness of the Holy Ghost and at that point I knew that I would be baptized into the Church.
After the Conference we went to a meeting at the chapel in Cambridge (I think) to hear the newly called president of the New England Mission, President Boyd K. Packer.

Now it is 4:20 a.m. and I am too tired to finish; it’s too long anyway. But will get to the actual baptism next post.

March 26, 2007

prelude to baptism

Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 2:04 am

I was asked to write an account of my baptism quite a while ago and have not done so because I have been thinking about where to begin. So I shall start with a brief, spiritual synopsis of my childhood because it describes the foundation for my choice to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I was born in 1951 and lived in a fairly remote area until 1963 when my family moved to a small town. Of course there were no videos, dvds or computers. There were few children around and in the early years of television there wasn’t much for kids to watch. My mother would usually read us a bedtime story, often it would be from a book of Bible stories. I remember thinking about those stories after I went to bed. Since we were put to bed very early there were generally a few hours of thinking and sometimes pondering before I went to sleep.

I loved those accounts of Adam and Eve, Noah, David and the giant, and all the others. I particularly recall a picture illustrating Zacchaeus in the sycomore tree with the Savior looking up at him and motioning him to come down. The text read, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.”. For some reason those words touched me and later in bed I would wonder how Zacchaeus felt and how I would feel and whether or not I could have climbed that sycomore tree.

My mother didn’t drive and Dad had his own agenda so we rarely went to church but Mom taught us basic Christian theology. We didn’t pray as I later learned to pray in the Church but we did have two set prayers; one was the “Grace” said before a meal and the other was the prayer said just before getting into bed. Looking back, they seem so childish but I usually said them with real intent and they were an important part of my personal doctrine.

Grace: God is great and God is good
And we thank Him for our food.
By His hand we must be fed
Give us Lord our daily bread.
Amen

Actually, as children we said the last line as if there was no pause after “bread”. It was only after I had learned to read that I realized “amen” was a separate word from “bread”.

bedtime prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Amen

Again, “amen” was said as part of “take”. This prayer would occasionally cause me to think about whether or not I actually would wake up and if I didn’t, where would the Lord take my soul? I hoped it would be heaven.

I developed a firm belief in God the Father and in his Son, Jesus Christ. I knew nothing of the Holy Ghost and I don’t remember wondering about where I lived before earth life though I knew there was a heaven. But the warm, happy feeling that the young, unlearned child ocassionally felt when hearing a Bible story or pondering her small store of doctrine I recognize now as the testimony of the Holy Ghost.

Children are so fresh from the presence of their heavenly parents and so very teachable that I think it is easy for them to understand, in a profound way, the concept of a loving God.

Next post I shall relate the beginning of my conversion and actual baptism.

March 18, 2007

still winter

Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 12:38 am

Our big storm amounted to four or five inches of granular snow and a mess of sleet. This morning I took Shawn for a walk to Edwards grocery store and it was somewhat slippery. It started raining shortly after we got home and has been raining lightly all day.

Mom has some lung discomfort which she has mentioned for several days. I had her sit up straight in a wheelchair for a few hours today instead of laying in the recliner and it seemed to help. I think we’ll make that part of her daily regimen. She seems a bit down today but who can blame her?

Am almost finished with “The Promise” by Chaim Potok. I don’t know which I like better; “The Chosen” or “The Promise” (still can’t figure out how to underline). It does remind me to be gratefull for modern prophets but the struggle of the individual to manifest his faith in a way acceptable to God and serve Him with all one’s “…heart, might, mind and strength.” while living in a world that preys on the “natural man” is a quest in any serious religion I should think.

Reading these books makes me want to be a better person and that is the main criterium for a good book for me.

  • March 13, 2007

    super dog one

    Filed under: Uncategorized — ladyofmaine @ 2:27 am

    Last Friday we had the missionaries to dinner and having been fairly “good” all week, we decided to have hotdogs with all the fixins.

    I was intrigued with Jim’s “super dog one” and asked him to take a photo so I could share it with you.

    resized-dog_1.jpg

    This is the beast! Jim arranged the fixins around the edge of the plate in order of application. Starting at the top right and going clockwise; onion, mustard, relish, sourkraut, cheese, chili, chopped peanuts, and parsley.

    I indulged in a chili dog with sour cream, onions, black olives and parsley but I have to say that my semi-annual hot dog will probably continue to be eaten with onions and mustard and that’s it!

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